When your child needs medical attention, your mind goes into tunnel vision. The world shrinks into a series of urgent steps where you expect expert treatment from your healthcare provider. In especially urgent situations, the last thing you may have time to do is ponder the pros and cons of a given hospital.
That is why it is imperative for parents to do their research ahead of time, so that in moments of crisis they can make the best possible decision for their child’s health. As much as we want to believe that reputable children’s hospitals offer consistently reliable care, the fact is that some children’s hospitals have a shockingly high rate of medical mistakes.
Children Are at a Higher Risk for Medical Mistakes
Most hospitals will not tell you that children run a higher risk than adults for medical mistakes at the hands of physicians. Because they are physically smaller and their internal organs are still developing, even a small mistake can make a big impact on a child’s health, both in the short-term and the long-term. According to a study released by The Joint Commission, a nationwide public health accreditation agency, most healthcare settings are primarily built around the needs of adults, making it difficult for staff to orient their protocols to the needs of children.
Moreover, children are usually less able to communicate when something is wrong with their health. When a medical mistake happens, it may take some time before it is discovered.
Medical Mistakes Aren’t Rare
Even the best physicians will admit that not all treatment protocols are 100% effective. Since every patient is different, doctors cannot guarantee good outcomes. The best they can do—indeed, all that the law requires them to do—is to follow the accepted standard of care in any given case.
Broadly put, the standard of care is the established set of the actions and choices that other doctors consider acceptable for a given situation. The greater medical community (from hospitals to universities to research centers) is responsible for establishing standards of care. Within this standard, though, doctors may routinely choose to try one medication or procedure over another, based on their diagnosis of your child’s symptoms. If your child responds poorly to the treatment, but it was within the standard of care, the doctor cannot be found at fault.
However, many parents have shared medical mistakes stories where the doctor clearly did violate the standard of care. These medical mistakes include:
- Misreading test results
- Making errors during surgery
- In-hospital injuries
One of the leading causes of medical mistakes affecting children is in incorrect medication dosage. Last April, Pediatrics published a study that found nearly 1 in 4 children who suffered harm from medication due to a medical mistake.
Moreover, a study by the Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Quality of Health Care in America reports that it is difficult for experts to track rates of medical mistakes because many errors go undocumented and unreported. As a result, fewer doctors and hospitals are held accountable for their mistakes.
Medical Malpractice Cases Are Hard to Prove
Many attorneys will tell you that cases of medical malpractice and negligence are notoriously hard to prove. Even filing a claim requires substantial proof that you have a malpractice case and that your doctor may have deviated from the proper standard of care in treating your child.
And successfully filing of your claim is just the first step. To have a hope of winning your case, you need watertight proof from medical experts trained in the same specialty as your child’s doctor. These experts must search your child’s medical records for evidence that the doctor made a medical mistake in the process of treating your child, and present their opinion to the judge in your case.
Showing that a mistake was made is only half the equation. The second and equally important step is bringing more medical experts into the picture who can prove that your child’s worsened condition or health complications are related to the mistake made by their doctor.
As you might imagine, finding medical experts to testify in your case isn’t just a matter of picking up the phone. This is where an attorney becomes not only helpful, but necessary.
You’ll Need an Experienced Lawyer to Win Your Case
When you decide to pursue a medical malpractice claim, there is no doubt that you will need the help of an attorney with solid experience in medical mistake cases. A competent medical malpractice attorney will approach your case with knowledge of where to begin, what important evidence to look for, and how to communicate with healthcare providers and insurance companies in a firm, professional way. Best of all, they will have established connections with medical experts who can offer valuable testimony about your child’s condition and how your doctor’s treatment may have violated the standard of care. When it comes time to negotiate for the financial compensation your family deserves, an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases will be able to get you the maximum amount available in your case.
Don’t go through this harrowing process alone. If you suspect that your child has suffered from a medical mistake, contact the experts at Oshman & Mirisola at (800) 400-8182 to discuss your options.